Important Steps for Protecting Your Future
A car accident is a sudden and traumatic event that changes your life. Experiencing a serious injury due to the reckless behavior of another driver often means that you must endure extensive medical care, missed time from work, and possibly the loss of your job. The steps you take after a car accident injury can greatly impact your future financial and medical needs. Proceeding with care after your injury involves being careful who you trust and protecting your best interests by consulting an auto injury attorney.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Never turn down the opportunity to get checked by a medical professional immediately after a car accident. Even if you feel fine—go to the hospital! There are certain injuries with delayed symptoms, and some that are only detected with medical tests. Common types of injuries that display symptoms after the initial point of impact include:
Headaches – A pounding headache that develops several days after an accident can signify a potentially serious problem. Medical conditions associated with headaches after a car accident include blood clots on the brain, injuries to the neck or head, and concussions resulting in a brain injury.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or a penetrating head injury that disrupts normal brain function. Motor vehicle accidents are second only to falls for TBI hospitalizations in the United States. Examples of severe TBIs include changes in behavior, sensation, and possible changes in cognitive and motor function. If you experienced a bump or blow to the head, or you develop headaches, seek immediate medical attention.
Neck pain – If you develop neck pain after an accident, you may have whiplash. Often the result of rear-end accidents, whiplash is the rapid movement of the neck in a back-and-forth fashion. Symptoms typically develop within 24 hours and consist of headaches, neck stiffness, and pain with neck movement. In cases of more severe whiplash, the results can include blurred vision, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and memory problems.
A proper diagnosis for whiplash is imperative for ruling out such issues as broken bones and tissue damage, both of which can cause or worsen symptoms. Seeking immediate medical attention is the best way for doctors to determine if you have whiplash or a more complex neck injury.
Abdominal pain – Internal bleeding is extremely serious and can go on for hours, even days, without detection. Symptoms include large areas of deep purple bruising, swelling, dizziness, and fainting. Abdominal pain that involves internal bleeding can result in life-threatening conditions. What you can’t see beyond the purple bruising is why you must seek the immediate care of medical professionals.
No one enjoys a trip to the hospital, however, delaying treatment of your injuries can result in further complications. Seeking medical care immediately following your accident is not only important for your health, but it can also help with future litigation. Establishing a record of your injuries as documented by a medical professional can serve as important evidence moving forward.
If an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) wants to transport you to the hospital, let them.
Who Do I Trust?
A car accident results in new people entering your life, such as law enforcement, medical professionals, and insurance company representatives. What you say and to whom you say it can greatly impact your case. Knowing who to trust after such a traumatic event is imperative for looking out for you and your best interests.
Do speak with law enforcement. If you are able, answer any questions that law enforcement officials have at the scene. If you are badly injured, expect them to visit you in the hospital for an account of what happened. When a car accident is a result of another driver’s negligence, a police report can serve as valuable evidence for you. The report and any charges and convictions relating to the accident can help to support your claim for possible compensation.
Do trust your healthcare providers. The medical professionals assigned to your care want to help you. While the shock and trauma of the accident may leave you confused and angry, don’t take it out on those caring for your injuries. Trust that they know what is best for you during this difficult time.
Do not speak with insurance company representatives. When they contact you, keep in mind that they are only looking out for the company they represent and not for you. While their initial offer may seem like a lot of money, it most likely is not enough to cover any long-term medical expenses.
Insurance company representatives attempt to settle cases quickly and often for less money than injured individuals deserve. That’s why it’s important to never accept the insurance company’s initial settlement offer.
The only person—outside of family and trusted friends—that you should trust is a personal injury attorney. Their knowledge of state and federal laws and the assistance of their legal team can provide the guidance your case needs. Experiencing a serious injury is traumatic enough. Placing the details of your case in the hands of a trusted attorney gives you the peace-of-mind you need to rest.
Why You Need a Personal Injury Attorney
The time immediately following a serious car accident is crucial to protecting your future. Dealing with the emotional, mental, physical, and financial fallout from your injuries is extremely difficult for you and your loved ones. It is not the time for you to make important decisions, like that of accepting a settlement offer from an insurance company.
Experienced personal injury attorneys bring experience and skills to your case. They know how the insurance companies operate, and they understand how to skillfully negotiate and maximize their clients’ compensation. Personal injury attorneys also know when the time for negotiating is over and when it becomes time to take a claim to trial.
Investing in the services of a personal injury attorney is about securing adequate compensation to sustain your future needs. Depending upon the severity of your injury, you may face the following medical expenses:
Spinal cord injury – There is often no recovery from a spinal cord injury. Victims of such catastrophic injuries have a variety of special needs, including power chairs for mobility and vehicle modifications for easy transport. Home modifications to accommodate life in a power chair are also often essential for better accessibility.
For someone with a spinal cord injury, they often need personal care assistance with daily tasks. Therapies, medications, and power chair and vehicle replacements throughout the years are costly. According to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, the lifetime costs associated with a spinal cord injury can reach into the millions of dollars each year.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – When someone you love experiences a severe TBI, he or she may never return to the person you once knew. A TBI disrupts normal brain function and the more severe the injury, the more therapy and extended care your loved one may need.
In addition to medication and personal care, you may find that you caring for your loved one is more than you can handle. Placing them in a skilled nursing facility is very expensive. The national average cost for a semi-private room is more than $6,000 a month.
Multiple broken bones – Sometimes bones don’t just break in a car accident; the force of impact may crush them. Breaking and crushing bones generally requires surgery, casts, braces, physical therapy, and assistance with personal care. Breaking your back can also result in missed time from work and painful rehabilitation.
Projecting for these future costs and needs is why you need a personal injury attorney on your side. Patients with severe and permanent injuries may experience more frequent hospital stays, additional surgeries, and require more assistance than their families can provide.
In addition to fighting for fair compensation, having a personal injury attorney on your side is reassuring. While each case and outcome is different, knowing that someone who understands personal injury cases is looking out for you is a good feeling.
Car Accidents and Negligence
According to the National Security Council, every seven seconds someone becomes injured in a car accident. More than 400,000 people were seriously injured in car accidents during 2018, and more than 40,000 people lost their lives.
Incidents of distracted driving, road rage, and the ever-present drunk driver continue to plague our nation’s highways and city streets. A driver’s license is a privilege and not a right!
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines negligence as “failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances.” When other drivers fail to share the road and drive recklessly, they are acting negligently. This is why speaking with law enforcement immediately is important for documenting your side of how the accident occurred.
No matter how defensively you drive, someone else is choosing to text a friend, drive after a few beers, or run a red light. When another driver’s disregard results in catastrophic injuries for you, discuss your case with a personal injury attorney.
Not everyone walks away from a car accident. If you lost a loved one due to the negligence of another driver, ask a personal injury attorney about a wrongful death claim. Again, this is another instance in which insurance companies will offer a low-dollar amount to settle the case quickly—don’t talk with them.
In your time of grief, it is hard to think clearly and to focus on anything other than the loss of your loved one. If the loved one was your spouse and the primary provider for your family, you need to consider the loss of income and your family’s future financial needs. No amount of money can replace your partner, yet at the same time, no negligent driver should avoid facing accountability for his or her actions.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You
A personal injury attorney brings an outside perspective to your situation. While treating you with respect and concern, your attorney can objectively review your case information and decide upon your best option.
Attorneys with years of experience handling car accident cases have a level of legal understanding that you need for pursuing justice. Their knowledge of the law, the courts, and how to negotiate are invaluable for securing the best outcome possible.
Life changes after a serious car accident, and there is no automatic fix for your new situation; your health, your finances, your job, and your relationships will likely all change. A car accident is often one of the most stressful times in your life—all due to the reckless actions of a careless driver.
Stand up to the person whose negligence disrupted your world; hold them accountable, and fight for fair compensation by reaching out to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Time isn’t on your side due to the statute of limitations regarding the time requirements for pursuing your case.
Aggressive and reckless drivers are bullies on our nation’s roads. All drivers have the right to travel to the store or commute home free from the harm of others. No one should pay out-of-pocket for expenses incurred due to the negligence of another driver. Even if you have health insurance, it won’t cover all of your bills and future needs.
Pursuing legal action is best left to the experts. If you are seriously injured in a car accident or lost a loved one due to a negligent driver, don’t delay. Seek immediate medical attention, watch who you talk to, and contact a personal injury attorney. Be proactive in protecting your best interests and that of your family.
A reckless driver can change your life forever, in just a second. In the time it takes for him or her to speed through a red light, the impact of the crash may permanently alter how you live and you and your family’s entire future. Do know that resources like that of a personal injury attorney stand ready to evaluate your case and provide you with your best options going forward.
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Since starting his firm in 1999, Stewart J. Guss has had the honor of representing clients from all over the world, helping them recover from even the most catastrophic injuries.
Today, thanks to a strong belief in those values of compassion, respect, and approachability, the firm has grown to employ over 120 legal professionals in numerous offices across 4 states, with nationwide reach.